On RocWiki, comments have been a contentious feature.  We aim for a
factual and neutral point-of-view for the "main" content on a page, with
opinions and whatnot kept to the comments.  This works fairly well, but
the current implementation limits flexibility and makes comments a
target for abuse.  I am proposing a new system that separates the
comments from the main page content, solving some of these issues and
allowing for flexibility to add features in the future.

The current Comments macro functions by appending the user's comment to
the bottom of the page.  This is simple and works pretty well, as long
as some rules are respected:

 * Don't edit other people's comments
 * Don't delete other people's comments
 * Don't mess with the formatting

These three rules run directly counter to the normal wiki instincts, yet
are essential to the use of comments for open discourse.  Unfortunately,
these rules are not always respected, and when they aren't, all hell
breaks loose.  We've also had issues with very heavily-commented pages:
new comments get added to the bottom, which is a long ways from the top.

I believe the best long-term solution to this is to separate the
comments from the editable page content.  I propose to do this by
creating a database table to store comments, with the macro
responsible for outputting the comments during page rendering.

This system should initially support the following:

 * Seamless transition from current system, including importing of
existing comments
 * The ability for users to delete and edit their own comments
 * The ability for admins to delete and edit other user's comments
 * The ability for users to delete comments from their own user page
 * Sorting displayed comments newest-to-oldest
 * Comments should still appear in the Recent Changes page as usual

In the future, I envision the system perhaps supporting:

 * RSS feeds for comments (for example, a feed of all comments across
the site)
 * Threads: being able to reply to a comment and having your comment
linked to the original
 * Comment voting: users can vote up/vote down other comments
 * Page voting: along with a comment, including one to five "stars",
e.g. for restaurant "review"-like stuff

In some ways, my model for this is's comment system, although
probably nothing that fancy will occur.

I plan to start work on this in the near future, and am wondering if
other folks are interested in something like this and/or if there's any
feedback or suggestions.  If so, some collaboration could surely ensue.

Thanks!  -rt

Ryan Tucker <>

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